Friday, July 16

Mini Reviews: July 16th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective [Darjeeling] (Nindie Choice!) -
As much as I've tended to see people bemoan the "kiddie" nature of Nintendo systems over the years, it can actually be a challenge to find games on Switch that are easy to recommend for green, younger gamers who may not have their coordination together yet. Fittingly based on a best-selling children's book, Labyrinth City has so much going for it for the young, or at least the young at heart. Each new location is jam-packed with visual details, corners to explore, secrets to find, and what I'd simply call magical moments as different elements from the page come to life. Though it unfortunately won't take long to get through all the game has to offer, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of discovery I had with it, rekindling those feelings of being a wide-eyed kid looking over pages ripe with detail from my childhood.


Induction [Bryan Gale] - With a preponderance of perplexing puzzlers populating the Switch eShop I don’t doubt that trying to come up with something original is a challenge. While Induction has elements that are pretty commonly found in its brethren that include box pushing and controlling multiple “characters” to get through problems its visual style and the specifics of how it feels does at least manage to set it apart a bit. That said, I didn’t find that it did a great job of conveying concepts it wants you to apply as you take on new challenges, and this would lead to some stages where you’re somewhat pointlessly experimenting to stumble into whatever technique or simply needing to showing a fair amount of patience in order to get through. It’s challenging, and it can feel pretty distinctive in places, but I’m not sure the more casual set will find it as accessible as you’d normally find. If you don’t mind stepping up to the plate and working things out a bit though, you may find it to your liking.


Fates of Ort [8BitSkull] - Going old school has definitely been a thing in the indie space in the last generation or two, and a return to earlier visual styles and classic play can be both nostalgic and sometimes revelatory when everything comes together. In the case of Fates of Ort it does have a certain degree of appeal with its isometric look and what I’d say is its more classic PC-style action RPG play overall, but it also has a collection of issues that stand in the way of a guaranteed good time. For people who primarily stick to handheld play the game’s font and text aren’t very friendly to scaling and truthfully aren’t the easiest to read even on a bigger screen, though the font certainly has a sense of style I suppose. In-game combat is at least unique I suppose, with a lock-on mechanic where you’ll select an enemy with the right stick and then sloppily slash or fire away at them, but it’s generally inaccurate and underwhelming. If, however, you’re game for a trip that feels trapped in a wayback machine and can look beyond these quirks, it’s has a feel that helps set it apart… for good and for bad.


Within the Blade [Ametist Studio] - The quality and ease-of-use of a game's controls is one of those things you tend to take for granted. That is, until they become an active problem. While the low-res platforming and ninja action of Within the Blade is reasonably good, and has a pretty satisfying old-school feel, unfortunately its needlessly cumbersome control scheme absolutely, and with great regularity, gets in the way. The thing is, this is pretty well-trodden territory, and the wall scaling and various attack and traversal mechanics aren't terribly revolutionary. Fumbling to execute critical moves becoming a headache then becomes all the more painful. When getting through the tutorial means struggling to do things that feel more like simply breathing in other games... it's a bit of a problem.


Red Colony 2 [Shinyuden] - Oh, how the Nintendo eShop gamescape has changed over the years. Gone are the days of censorship and sweat in place of blood, and now we can have games with plenty of tittilating details (with a typical emphasis on that first syllable) included to bring us to a new mature gaming nirvana. Well, or maybe not so much. Sure, there's a certain giggle-worthiness to the lady of the night protagonist mixing it up with zombies and some dinosaurs (just roll with it) as pieces of her clothes fall away as well as a fair amount of "adult talk"... but unfortunately the slow pace, wonky combat, and somewhat simplistic "remember detail here to solve puzzle there" roadblocks make that "mature" edge feel like the game's main selling point (for what it is) instead of the quality of the play itself.

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